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12-27-2008- Carolina & Clemson vs. the SEC (UPDATED)
 
Before the season, I posted Clemson and Carolina's Record against SEC opponents.  Here are their respective records updated. 
 
Clemson's record since the forming of the SEC In December, 1932:

Against Alabama: 0-9
Against Auburn: 5-16-1
Against Florida: 2-2-1
Against Georgia: 8-27-2
Against Georgia Tech: 2-11 (between 1933-1964 when GT left SEC)
Against Kentucky: 4-6
Against LSU: 0-2
Against Ole Miss: 0-1
Against Mississippi State: 1-1-1
Against South Carolina: 12-5 (since 1992)
Against Tennessee: 1-4
Against Tulane: 3-5 (between 1933-1964 when Tulane left SEC)
Against Vanderbilt: 1-1

Total: 39-90-5 (.302)

South Carolina's record is:

Against Alabama: 3-10
Against Arkansas: 7-10
Against Auburn: 1-4
Against Florida: 3-18
Against Georgia: 12-37-2
Against Georgia Tech: 1-1 (between 1933 and 1964 when GT left SEC)
Against Kentucky: 13-6-1
Against LSU: 1-14-1
Against Ole Miss: 6-8
Against Mississippi State: 7-6
Against Tennessee: 3-19
Against Tulane: 0-2 (between 1933 and 1964 when Tulane left SEC)
Against Vanderbilt: 14-4

Total: 71-139 (.338)

Source: http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div.../opponents.php

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12-16-2008-A Look to the Future...
*FRONT PAGE ARTICLE*
 
In September, I proclaimed that Steve Spurrier needed to win eight games in the regular season to call 2008 a success.  That was after the disappointing 1-2 start.  After losing their final two games by a combined score of 87-20 South Carolina sits at 7-5.  Who would've thought that four years into the Steve Spurrier era the Gamecocks would still have five loss seasons?  Who would've thought that the weakest link of the team would be the vaunted Spurrier offense? 
 
As it usually does after a painful loss, it took me a couple days to get over the debacle in Tiger Town.  During the first few days after the 31-14 loss, I asked these questions to myself.  But then I began to look at the big picture.
 
For the first time since the 1930s South Carolina has had five non-losing seasons (four under Spurrier).  South Carolina is headed for a New Year's Day bowl game for only the third time in school history.  But what makes me realize that this program is still moving in the right direction is taking a glance at the current recruiting class.  Currently ranked #8 by Rivals, Spurrier and the coaching staff have put together a wonderful recruiting class.  The nation's No. 2 running back, Jarvis GIles out of Tampa, FL committed to Carolina last week.
 
The key to Spurrier's success at South Carolina is going to be his ability to coach up Stephen Garcia.  If Spurrier can turn Garcia into a dependable game manager, the Gamecocks will have a shot at winning the East.  That starts with a bowl game on January 1st.  Garcia needs to have a big game and needs to take the steps to learn the offense.  A bowl win on New Year's day against a good Iowa team would make all the difference and would give the Gamecocks just their tenth eight-win season in school history.

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12-08-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 15)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 15:
 
1) Florida (12-1): What a job Tim Tebow has done since the loss to Ole Miss!  I will maintain my position that he is the more valuable to his team than any other player in the country.  Should be a good matchup with Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship game.
2) Alabama (12-1): Can't say enough about Nick Saban's coaching job this season.  He was worth the money.  I fully expect the Tide to roll over Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
3) Ole Miss (8-4): Houston Nutt has done a fantastic job. Without a doubt, this team would beat the likes of Wake Forest, Vandy, and South Carolina if they played today. Could easily be a one or two loss team.
4) Georgia (9-3): A disappointing finish considering the preseason #1 ranking.  The Bulldog fans must now play the waiting game.  Who will go pro?
5) LSU (7-5): There will most likely be some changes to the staff during the offseason.  With all of the talent on this team five losses is not acceptable.
6) South Carolina (7-5): The Gamecocks must close out the season with a bowl win over Iowa.  A New Year's Day bowl win would be big for the program and would help close out an already strong recruting class. 
7) Vanderbilt (6-6): Bowl eligible for the first time since the eighties.  6-6 is a good season for Vanderbilt.  Too bad they couldn't do more with their 5-0 start though.
8) Kentucky (6-6): It seems Kentucky has solidified themselves as a program that will go bowling every year.  Maybe that's all that can be expected from a football program that plays second fiddle to basketball year in and year out.
9) Tennessee (5-7): A huge transition is now taking place for Vol Nation.  For the first time since 1992 they are enduring a coaching change. 
10) Arkansas (5-7): With the win over LSU to close out the season Arkansas has some momentum heading into next year.  A possible sleeper team in the West next year?
11) Auburn (5-7): Can't say how disappointing it is to see Tommy Tuberville get the ax.  He was a fantastic coach and one of the SEC's best.  This will without a doubt set the Auburn program back a couple of years.
12) Mississippi State (4-8): A great hire in Dan Mullen.  Can he get it done at MSU?

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12-01-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 14)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 14:
 
1) Florida (11-1): It was a tougher test than they've had in the last few weeks, but they still rolled. Should be a good match up in Atlanta next week.
2) Alabama (12-0): Completed the perfect season today by spanking their rivals. What could feel better to Tide fans? Possibly extending the winning streak two more games...
3) Ole Miss (8-4): Houston Nutt has done a fantastic job. Without a doubt, this team would beat the likes of Wake Forest, Vandy, and South Carolina if they played today. Could easily be a one or two loss team.
4) Georgia (9-3): I figured that the rushing attack of Tech would present a problem for the struggling Dawg D. But I also expected the Dawg offense to score more and for Georgia to win in a shootout. Instead, Tech won as the ACC dominated the SEC Saturday. Thank God for Florida for preventing the sweep.
5) LSU (7-5): Once again, defense led to the downfall of the Tigers. A 3-5 record is NOT exceptable with all of the talent on the LSU squad.
6) South Carolina (7-5): Another 5+ loss season for the head ball coach. How much more of this can he take? As usual, this team has a knack for falling apart down the stretch. What could've been a promising 9-4 year turns into another mediocre year.
7) Vanderbilt (6-6): Once again, the ACC dominated Saturday. Really sad that the SEC couldn't do better against one of the weakest conferences in college football on Saturday.
8) Kentucky (6-6): Another loss. Three straight losses is not the way you want to end the season.
9) Tennessee (5-7): Sent Fulmer out with a win. Will be interesting to see what Lane Kiffin does from here.
10) Arkansas (5-7): A nice win, this team has momentum going into the offseason. They will be dangerous next year.
11) Auburn (5-7): Is Tommy done at Auburn? 36-0 certainly can't help.
12) Mississippi State (4-8): After a good season in 2007, the Bulldogs took a step back this year. The result: So long Croom. Fulmer to Mississippi State?

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11-24-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 13)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 13:
 
1) Florida (10-1): Well, Florida State can run the ball (unlike South Carolina and the Citadel), so it could be closer in the first half than either of those two games, but I'm sure Urban "Name the Score" Meyer will be able to add another 'W' to his resume.
2) Alabama (11-0): A bye week this weekend. Can they end the streak against Auburn? I say yes and it won't be pretty.
3) Georgia (9-2): They have a pretty good Georgia Tech team this coming weekend. With the way the Dawg D has looked lately, this one may be tough for Georgia.
4) Ole Miss (7-4): This is where it gets tough. LSU, USC, and Ole Miss are all 1-1 against each other. But as of right now, with the way this offense is clicking and the defense doing more enough to win, this team is pretty dang good. Congrats to the Rebels on a fantastic season.
5) South Carolina (7-4): South Carolina lost to LSU but they beat Ole Miss; once again, tricky to rank these three. South Carolina MUST beat Clemson next week to call this season a success. 8-4 is a step in the right direction. 7-5 would just be more of the same (mediocrity).
6) LSU (7-4): Did they forget about defense in Baton Rouge? If they're not careful, Arkansas could pull the upset Friday.
7) Vanderbilt (6-5): Wow, what happened to Vandy. They were winning earlier in the year by playing smart and winning the turnover battle. That didn't happen against Tennessee.
8) Kentucky (6-4): The Cats are going to be up against a very emotional Tennessee team trying to send their coach out a winner. Will they be able to overcome the Vols defense this weekend?
9) Auburn (5-6): Want the ultimate bragging rights? Beat Bama this weekend and keep them from a National Championship game.
10) Tennessee (4-7): Tennessee probably looked the best they have all season yesterday in Nashville. Too bad they waited until Game 11 to put it together.
11) Mississippi State (4-7): Good win over Arkansas. A win over Ole Miss this weekend saves Croom's job.
12) Arkansas (4-7): Just when I thought this team was making progress, they go out and lose to Mississippi State. Go figure.

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11-17-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 12)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 12:
 
1) Florida (9-1): They continue to impress. Short of a miracle or a letdown, I honestly don't think anyone can stop them.
2) Alabama (11-0): Can they end the streak against Auburn? I say yes and it won't be pretty.
3) Georgia (9-2): Got by Auburn. They aren't winning pretty, but they're winning.
4) LSU (7-3): Almost flopped against Troy. LSU will have to play a whole lot better to beat Ole Miss.
5) South Carolina (7-4): Defense played well in the first half. 21 of Florida's 28 1st half points were from turnovers. Will Spurrier ever find a QB at USC? A win over Clemson is a must to show improvement. 8-4 isn't bad at South Carolina.
6) Ole Miss (6-4): Dominated a lesser opponent Saturday. The Rebels are heading for a good bowl game; most likely a trip to Atlanta for New Years Eve.
7) Vanderbilt (6-4): They finally got over the hump and reached bowl eligibility. Congratulations to the Vandy faithful.
8) Kentucky (6-4): Came out flat against Vandy. So much for my prediction of 8-4.
9) Auburn (5-6): Made the UGA game close but couldn't close the deal. They have to beat Alabama to go to a bowl game.
10) Arkansas (4-6): A bowl trip looks unlikely now, but this team has improved
11) Mississippi State (3-7): They made it interesting for a half at least.
12) Tennessee (3-7): Will this team be able to muster up enough offense to end the season with upset wins over Vandy and Kentucky? The fact that I have to use the word upset to describe a win over those two schools tells you where the Volunteer program is right now.

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11-10-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 11)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 11:
 
1) Florida (8-1): Best team in the country hands down; may see the best defense they've faced all year this weekend in South Carolina
2) Alabama (10-0): If Oklahoma can beat Texas Tech, could we see #1 vs. #2 in Atlanta in December?
3) Georgia (8-2): What happened to the Dawg defense? 
4) LSU (6-3): Eliminate the picks and the Tigers are a one-loss team with wins over UGA and Alabama
5) South Carolina (7-3): The defense will get a huge test next week going to the Swamp; it appears the Gameccocks have positioned themselves well for a New Years Bowl game
6) Ole Miss (5-4): a seven win season looks very probable; an upset over LSU in Baton Rouge will give them eight
7) Kentucky (6-4): A heartbreaking loss to Georgia, but I see an eight win regular season and a trip to the Peach (Chick-Fil-A) Bowl for the Cats
8) Vanderbilt (5-4): I bet Auburn and South Carolina want a rematch with Vandy right about now
9) Arkansas (4-6): A bowl trip looks unlikely now, but this team is improving
10) Auburn (5-5): The Tigers are going to need an upset over either UGA or Bama to make it to a bowl
11) Mississippi State (3-6):  Will a win over Ole Miss save Croom's job? 
12) Tennessee (3-7): What else can be said?  A loss to Wyoming...the end of the season can't come soon enough for Vols fans.

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11-03-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 10)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 10:
 
1) Florida (7-1): Alabama is undefeated making it hard for me to put UF at #1, but after watching the two teams closely I honestly think Florida would beat them head; there is just too much speed on both sides of the ball for Florida
2) Alabama (9-0): Played a nobody and dominated...surprise surprise; that UF-Bama SEC title game is going to be a good one
3) Georgia (7-2): Georgia showed their true colors this weekend; they aren't quite as good as that preseason #1 ranking led people to believe; that defense has now allowed 35+ points two weeks in a row 
4) LSU (6-2): They could catch Alabama napping this weekend, but that defense is going to half to toughen up or the Tide will roll
5) South Carolina (6-3): Beat the Vols in dominating fashion this weekend; they must NOT take Arkansas lightly next weekend
6) Ole Miss (5-4): Well on their way to their first bowl appearance since 2004
7) Vanderbilt (5-3): The fourth loss will come next week against Florida; will this team be able to reach bowl eligibility?
8) Kentucky (6-3): Good SEC win over the weekend; I'm calling it now, Music City Champs for the third straight year
9) Arkansas (4-5): Nice win over Tulsa, but they must beat Carolina next weekend if they want to earn a bowl trip this year
10) Auburn (4-5): This is where it gets hard; Auburn's offense still cannot move the ball.  Is another coach on the hot seat?
11) Tennessee (3-6): Got dominated in Columbia; will this team make it to a bowl?  I think not.
12) Mississippi State (3-6):  It's over for Croom....unless he can win out.

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10-31-2008- Competitive with the Vols
 
This Saturday South Carolina hosts a struggling Tennessee team at Williams Brice Stadium.  This is a HUGE game for Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks.  A win would signal a movement in the right direction for South Carolina.  It would be a good start towards acsending to the top of the SEC East.  Concerning the Tennessee game tomorrow, there's a very telling stat that not a lot of people know about.  We all know the history.  South Carolina has only beaten Tennessee twice since joining the conference in the SEC.  Since 2003 South Carolina has had more yards than Tennessee but has only one ONCE.

2007: South Carolina 501 yards, Tennessee 317 (UT wins 27-24, OT)
2006: South Carolina 395 yards, Tennessee 325 (UT wins 31-24)
2005: South Carolina 307 yards, Tennessee 251 (SC wins 16-15)
2004: South Carolina 567 yards, Tennessee 412 (UT wins 43-29)
2003: South Carolina 371 yards, Tennessee 252 (UT wins 23-20, OT)


The deciding factor in these games has been turnover margin.  SC has not won the turnover margin in this game in the last five years.  That keeps us on the wrong side of close.  Once again, I believe the key stat Saturday night will be turnover margin.  In a close defensive struggle, like I believe this game will be, we MUST take care of the football.

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10-27-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 9)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 9:
 
1) Alabama (8-0): Looked great against a tough UT defense; this team could run the table
2) Florida (6-1): This team is firing on all cylinders right now; really impressive
3) Georgia (7-1): Their offense finally clicked but their defensive performance was unimpressive against LSU
4) LSU (5-2): Take away the two pick 6's and the game with UGA turns out differently but the bottom line is that they're out of the title hunt
5) South Carolina (5-3): Fantastic defense; this team has a great chance to win 8-9 games this year
6) Ole Miss (4-4): Well they can win a close ball game; this team will go bowling for the first time since 2004
7) Vanderbilt (5-3): This team can't seem to get over the hump and become bowl eligible; it's a mental thing
8) Kentucky (5-3): That "great" defense didn't look to good against Florida and that offense has GOT to improve
9) Arkansas (3-5): Their second loss by less than a FG in two weeks; how will they do agaisnt #19 Tulsa?
10) Tennessee (3-5): In impressive performance by the Vol defense against Bama, but that offense is horrible
11) Auburn (4-4): That vaunted Tiger defense looked horrible against West Virginia
12) Mississippi State (3-5):  Croom is finished.  I hear Tommy Bowden needs a job.

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10-20-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 8)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 8:
 
1) Florida (5-1): The only team in the SEC that could make it all the way
2) Alabama (7-0): They blew a 24-3 lead in the second half and almost lost to Ole Miss.  If they don't put Tennessee away, they could come out of Knoxville with a loss.
3) Georgia (6-1): Still weren't overly impressive against Vandy; got a tough trip to Baton Rouge next on the docket
4) LSU (5-1): Shut down a struggling SC offense to win 24-17 in Columbia; they could climb back into the title race with a win over the Dawgs
5) South Carolina (5-3): Not a great performance from South Carolina over the weekend; they had their chances but lost; a very opportune time for a BYE week
6) Vanderbilt (5-2): Could bowl eligibility come this weekend with a win against the Blue Devils?
7) Kentucky (5-2): A BIG win against Arkansas; showed a lot of character this weekend being down by 13 in the 4th qtr; Music City Bowl bound again?
8) Ole Miss (3-4): Best 3-4 team in the country?  Quite possibly; but they can't seem to finish the deal and win a close ball game.
9) Tennessee (3-4): Two season defining games in the next two weeks.  A home contest with Tennessee and a trip to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks will define the Vols' season.
10) Arkansas (3-4): Must learn to put a team away; up by two scores against Kentucky in the fourth qtr and lost
11) Auburn (4-3): Still the worst offense in the SEC without a doubt
12) Mississippi State (2-5):  Croom is finished.  I hear Tommy Bowden needs a job.

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10-13-2008- Rank the SEC (Week 7)
 
Here at Spurred we're starting a new feature.  We'll have our own weekly rankings of the SEC following the games every weekend.  Here are the rankings for Week 7:
 
1) Florida (5-1): Isn't this how we expected Florida to look all year? 
2) Alabama (6-0): A possible trap game coming up against Ole Miss, with LSU's loss to Florida, Alabama has a lead in the West
3) Georgia (5-1): Injuries have plagued this team; huge game against Vandy this weekend
4) LSU (4-1): A Horrible showing against Florida; heading to Columbia to play a tough SC defense this week
5) South Carolina (5-2): Best defense in the SEC; I bet they want a rematch with Vandy right about now
6) Vanderbilt (5-1): The Cindarella story is over with Georgia and Florida coming up in the next month.
7) Ole Miss (3-3): Best 3-3 team in the country?  Quite possibly; another possible upset could be brewing against Bama this week.
8) Kentucky (4-2): Good defense, really bad offense.  If South Carolina can kick field goals, it's a blowout in Lexington.
9) Tennessee (2-4): Played tough against Georgia, but an 0-3 start in conference is unacceptable
10) Arkansas (3-3): An improving team that knocked off Auburn at Auburn last weekend; that's not an easy task
11) Auburn (4-3): Worst offense in the SEC without a doubt
12) Mississippi State (2-4):  Dear Bulldogs, Thanks for beating Vandy.  Signed, the rest of the SEC East

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10-08-2008- Smelley Has Career Day
 
Well, Steve Spurrier went from being an idiot to a genious in about three hours on Saturday afternoon.  Gamecock fans were questioning every part of his offense.  The biggest question was, 'why is stephen garcia not starting at ole miss?'  Many even questioned whether or not Spurrier's offense would ever work in the SEC anymore.  But Chris Smelley's performance Saturday silenced all critics and proved once again that Steve Spurrier knows what he's doing.  In his short tenure thus far, Spurrier quarterbacks at USC have logged 5 of the top 20 passing days in school history.  Here are those 5:
 
1) Blake Mitchell (2006)- vs. Middle Tennessee State (388 passing yards)
2) Blake Mitchell (2007)- at Arkansas (364 passing yards)
3) Blake Mitchell (2005)- vs. UCF (330 passing yards)
4) Chris Smelley (2008)- vs. Ole Miss (327 passing yards)
5) Blake Mitchell (2006)- vs. Houston (323 passing yards)

10/01/2008- The 2000s
 

As disappointing as it is to think about the 3-2 start of our team, we must step back and look at the bigger picture.  We are well on our way to completing one of the most successful decades in Gamecock Football history.  South Carolina averaged four wins a season in the 1990s.  It baffles me now that in this decade, we have a better overall record than Alabama.  That speaks volumes.  Our program is improving.  The fact that we now are angry with 6-6 seasons proves this.  Take a look at the numbers below:

 

Overall Record Since 2000:

1) LSU (82-22)
2) Georgia (80-23)
3) Auburn (75-27)
4) Florida (74-28)
5) Tennessee (71-31)
6) Arkansas (58-42)
7) South Carolina (54-42)
8) Alabama (53-46)
9) Ole Miss (45-50)
10) Kentucky (36-58)
11) Mississippi State (33-61)
12) Vanderbilt (25-67)

 

SEC Record Since 2000:

1) Auburn (47-17)
1) LSU (47-17)
3) Florida (46-18)
4) Georgia (45-19)
5) Tennessee (44-20)
6) Arkansas (32-32)
7) South Carolina (30-34)
7) Alabama (30-34)
9) Ole Miss (24-40)
10) Mississippi State (15-49)
10) Kentucky (15-49)
12) Vanderbilt (9-55)

 

**Records were compiled before the 2008 season

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8/19/2008- What if?
 

Now I know we’re not supposed to go back and say, “what if this” and “what if that.”  But Gamecock fans, it’s what we do best.  During the SEC Media days, Coach Spurrier constantly mentioned that South Carolina has beaten each of the big three once and lost a heartbreaker to each of them once. 

 

As we patiently await kickoff next Thursday, let’s have a little fun with those “heartbreakers.”  Let’s say Jarvis Moss doesn’t block that kick against Florida and South Carolina wins 19-17 in the Swamp.   Let’s say South Carolina defeats UGA in 2005.  And lastly, let’s say South Carolina recovers a fumble in Knoxville in 2007 and secures a 24-21 victory over the Vols.  How different would things look right now in Columbia?  Let’s look at it by season:

 

2005

South Carolina finished the 2005 season 2nd in the SEC East with a 5-3 record.  In retrospect, a win over the Bulldogs would’ve won the Gamecocks their first Eastern division title.  In the end, South Carolina gave Georgia the game.  The following things kept the Gamecocks from knocking off the Dawgs in Athens:

 

-PK Josh Brown missed an extra point in the 2nd quarter (forcing SC to go for two later in the game)

-a Sidney Rice TD pass is called back due to an illegal shift by Daccus Turman late in the 2nd quarter

-SC put together a 65 yard drive that ended in a missed 46 yard FG by Ryan Succop late in the 3rd quarter

-a potential game-tying two point conversion is failed late in the 4th quarter

-SC’s defense fails to stop UGA on a 3rd and 22 from the UGA 8 with just under 5 minutes to go in the 4th

 

FINAL SCORE: 15-17

 

South Carolina had multiple opportunities to win this game.  Now, in 2005 South Carolina did win their fair share of close games (see South Carolina-Tennessee game), but they also lost three that could’ve and maybe should’ve gone Carolina’s way (Clemson, Missouri, and Georgia).

 

2006

After knocking off two of the “Big Three” in the SEC East in 2005, South Carolina failed to knock off Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee in Spurrier’s second year.  The best chance South Carolina had to knock off one of these SEC powers was in Spurrier’s return to the Swamp.  The Gamecocks outgained Florida 410-401 in total yards yet the scoreboard read 17-16 in Florida’s favor as the clock struck zero.  The following plays kept South Carolina from knocking off UF in the Swamp:

 

-Midway through the 2nd quarter a delay of game penalty negates a 55 yard Ryan Succop FG

-Early in the 3rd quarter a 47 yard Ryan Succop FG attempt was blocked

-An extra point attempt early in the 4th quarter was blocked

-A 27 yd. pass to Sidney Rice to the Florida 7 yard line was negated due to a false start on the final drive

-As time expired a 48 yard Ryan Succop FG attempt was blocked

 

FINAL SCORE: 16-17

 

A win in the Swamp over the #6 Florida Gators (and eventual National Champions) would’ve been huge for Spurrier’s Gamecocks.  Carolina would’ve improved to 6-4 (three of the previous losses came to top 12 teams by 7, 7, and 6 points) and most likely would’ve finished 8-4 and headed for the Peach Bowl.  A win in the Swamp also would’ve improved SC’s SEC record to 4-4 for 2006.  It also would’ve been the highest ranked SEC team South Carolina has ever beaten and the Gamecock’s only win in the Swamp.

 

2007

In early October, South Carolina was riding high with a 6-1 record and a #6 BCS ranking.  More importantly, South Carolina was 2-0 in the Eastern division of the SEC.  All of it came to a screeching hault when Vanderbilt upset South Carolina 6-17 in Columbia dropping the Gamecocks to a 6-2 record and a 3-2 record in the SEC.  It is said that you can tell the real character of a team when it faces adversity.  South Carolina needed to rebound in Knoxville following the loss to Vanderbilt in order to right the ship.  The Gamecocks lost to Tennessee in overtime 24-27.  After facing a halftime deficit of 21 points, South Carolina and QB Blake Mitchell staged an amazing comeback.  At the game’s end the Gamecocks held a 31-16 advantage in first downs and a 501-317 yard advantage in total offense.  It was not enough.  The following plays led to South Carolina’s demise:

 

-Freddie Brown fumbles in UT territory and missed tackles allow UT’s Berry to return fumble to SC 2

-SC failed to recover a Jonathan Hefney fumble in the 2nd quarter, drive results in a TD for the Vols

-On the first drive in the 3rd quarter, SC failed to convert a 4th and goal from the 4

-Mike Davis fumbles at the UT 17 yard line when the game is tied at 21 in the 4th quarter

-With 1:30 to go B. Mitchell misses a wide open McKinley on a 3rd & 5; would’ve let SC run more time off before kicking go-ahead FG

-After going up 24-21, SC lets UT have a 37 yard kickoff return to mid-field

-SC fails to recover TWO Tennessee fumbles on UT’s game-tying drive with under a minute to go

-B. Mitchell misses an open receiver in the end zone during OT after UT had scored a FG in their OT

-Ryan Succop misses a 40 yard field goal wide right

 

FINAL SCORE: 24-27 (OT)

 

A win in Knoxville would’ve given the Gamecocks a one game lead on everyone in the SEC East race.  It would’ve at least guaranteed the Gamecocks a bowl appearance.  South Carolina might not have lost the heart and given up on the season the way they did after such a heartbreaking defeat to Tennessee. 

 

So, in conclusion, you give South Carolina three more wins over the past three years.  You change three plays and things are looking a lot different right now for the guys in Garnet and Black.  Now, I know that South Carolina has also won a couple of close ones in this time period, but the Gamecocks are 8-9 in games decided by 7 points or less.  That is below .500.  With all of that said, the point of this is not to ask what if, although it certainly can be done, but to shed light on how close South Carolina actually is to competing and contending for the SEC East.  Just changing three plays in the past couple of years gives Spurrier a a 24-13 (.648) record overall.  It gives the Gamecocks at least a .500 record in confernence the last three years (and a 6-2 record in 2005).  It would also give the Gamecocks winning records over each of the 'Big Three' in the East.  We're almost there Gamecock fans and are competing on a higher level now than ever before. 

8/16/2008- Victories against AP Ranked Opponents
 
The most likely scenario on September 13th is that UGA will come into Williams-Brice Stadium as the #1 team in the country.  South Carolina has never had a victory over the top ranked team in the nation.  The highest ranked victory South Carolina has had was at #3 North Carolina in 1981.  Here are the rest of USC's victories against AP ranked opponents:
 
#3 at North Carolina (31-13) [1981]
#8 Kentucky (38-23) [2007]
#8 Georgia (23-10) [1988]
#8 Clemson (20-7) [1987]
#9 Georgia (21-10) [2000]
#11 at Georgia (16-12) [2007]
#11 Florida State (38-26) [1984]
#12 Florida (30-22) [2005]
#12 Georgia (17-10) [1984]
#13 Clemson (13-9) [1979]
#14 at Georgia (23-21) [1993]
#15 Virginia (31-7) [2003]
#15 Mississippi State (21-6) [1992]
#16 Tennessee (24-23) [1992]
#16 Mississippi (10-7) [1976]
#17 at Mississippi State (16-14) [2001]
#17 at Michigan (17-14) [1980]
#17 Wake Forest (35-14) [1979]
#17 Georgia Tech (24-7) [1971]
#18 Baylor (24-13) [1975]
#18 at North Carolina (35-21) [1970]
#19 Ohio State (24-7) [2001] OUTBACK BOWL
#19 Georgia (27-10) [1978]
#22 Ohio State (31-28) [2002] OUTBACK BOWL
#22 at Clemson (34-31) [1996]
#23 at Tennessee (16-15) [2005]
#23 at Georgia (24-20) [1989]
#24 at Clemson (31-28) [2006]
#25 at Georgia (14-9) [2001]
#25 Mississippi State (23-19) [2000]

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8/8/2008-Most Significant Wins Since Joining the SEC (1992-2007)
 
1) 1992-South Carolina 24, Tennessee 23:  There is only one place where college football is king and that is the Southeastern Conference.  South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference along with the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1992.  After an 0-5 start in 1992 many began questioning the Gamecock's decision to join the conference.  With such lopsided losses as a 7-48 decision in Tuscaloosa and a 6-28 debacle against the Georgia Bulldogs in Columbia, it was evident that the Gamecocks needed something to rejuvenate their team and spark their offense.  That spark came from freshman quarterback Steve Taneyhill.  Taneyhill was named the starting quarterback for game six against Mississippi State.  He led Carolina to two consecutive wins over MSU and Vanderbilt.  Going into the game with the Vols, the Gamecocks were 2-5.  Tanneyhill's two touchdown passes and RB Brandon Bennett's 122 yards led Carolina to a thrilling 24-23 victory over Tennessee (5-2 previous to the game).  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: The Gamecocks needed a signature win to validate their move to the SEC.  They needed to show that they could compete and beat the big boys in the conference.  The Gamecocks closed the season winning five of their last six games.  The only loss came in a 9-14 decision to the Steve Spurrier led Gators in Gainesville. 
 
2) 2005-South Carolina 30, Florida 22:  The hoopla that surrounded Steve Spurrier's return to college football reached a feverish pitch on November 12, 2005.  The Spurrier-led Gamecocks were facing Spurrier's old team, the Florida Gators.  Florida came into the game with a 7-2 record and a #12 national ranking.  More importantly, a Florida victory would've wrapped up an SEC East title for the Gators.  The Gamecocks came into the game on a four game winning streak and a 6-3 record.  Although a longshot, South Carolina still had an outside shot at winning the East.  Three things had to happen.  They needed to beat Florida, Georgia needed to lose to Auburn, and then to Kentucky the following week.  To the astonishment of many Gamecock fans, two out of those three requirements came to fruition.  South Carolina knocked off the Florida Gators for the first time since 1939.  In a post game press conference Spurier addressed South Carolina's chances of making it to Atlanta by saying, "I Guess the headline in the Florida paper should read, 'Guess who's pulling for Auburn now.'"  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT:  Georgia beat Kentucky 45-13 the next Saturday, meaning the Gamecocks would miss the title game in Atlanta and would finish second in the SEC East with a 5-3 conference record.  But the win over Florida was more important than just knocking off a team ranked in the top 25.  With the victory over the Gators, Steve Spurrier proved that South Carolina can challenge for and win the Southeastern Conference. 
 
3) 2000-South Carolina 21, Georgia 10:  For twenty one straight games the South Carolina football team went without a victory.  On September 2, 2000, Lou Holtz led the Gamecocks to their first victory since September 5, 1998.  The goalposts came down after the Gamecocks' 31-0 victory over New Mexico State in week one.  A contest with Georgia loomed in week two.  Georgia, led by Heisman candidate Quincy Carter, was 1-0 and ranked in the top 10 in the country.  Carter threw six interceptions in all of 1999.  To the suprise of many, South Carolina pulled of the monumental upset as the Gamecock defense picked off Carter five times.  The goalposts came down for the second consecutive week in Columbia.  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT:  With arguabaly the most unsuccessful decade of Gamecock football coming to a close in 1999, the Gamecocks needed hope for the future.  Lou Holtz's arrival at USC brought that hope.  It had been twelve years since the Gamecock's last victory over a top 10 team.  The win helped propell South Carolina to an eight win season for the first time since 1988. 
 
4) 1995-South Carolina 24, West Virginia 21:  Prior to the 1995 Carquest Bowl, South Carolina's bowl record was 0-8.  The Gamecocks had never won a bowl game.  Brad Scott's 1994 squad finally broke the curse against a pesky West Virginia squad.  In a year that had many ups and downs (beating LSU in Baton Rouge, losing to East Carolina in Columbia), the bowl victory overshadowed it all.  Taneyhill threw for 227 yards, passed and rushed for a TD.  He was named the MVP of the game as South Carolina held on for a 24-21 victory.  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT:  It's the first bowl victory in the program's history.  South Carolina would go on to win three of its next four bowl games.  But this is the game that ended the losing streak (which is now no longer the longest thanks to Notre Dame).
 
5) 2006-South Carolina 31, Clemson 28:  In Steve Spurrier's second year at the helm, the Gamecocks came close to multiple huge wins.  But we all know that "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."  South Carolina lost a thriller to #2 Auburn 24-17.  A couple of weeks later the Gamecocks suffered a 31-24 loss to top 15 ranked Tennessee.  The following week the Carolina lost to top 12 Arkansas in a 26-20 decision.  The biggest heartbreaker of the season though came in Gainesville, Florida.  The Gamecocks lost to the eventual national champions 17-16.  In the game, USC had three kicks blocked (an extra point and two field goals).  The Gamecocks were sitting at 6-5 going into the November 25th contest against #24 Clemson.  Down fourteen points in the third quarter, South Carolina rattled off seventeen unanswered points to win by a score of 31-28.  The win was secured when Clemson kicker Jad Dean missed a thirty-nine yard field goal with thirteen seconds to go.  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT:  This win propelled Carolina to its most highly touted recruiting class ever.  Players that will make a difference and help South Carolina capture it's first SEC division title, and maybe conference title.
 
8 More Honorable Mentions:
 
2005-South Carolina 16, Tennessee 15: First win in Knoxville
2002-South Carolina 31, Ohio State 28: Scorecard (USC 2, OSU 0)
2001-South Carolina 37, Alabama 36: First win over Alabama
2001-South Carolina 14, Georgia 9: Knocking off Dawgs two years in a row for first time since 88-89
2001-South Carolina 24, Ohio State 7: Gets 2nd Bowl win on national stage
2000-South Carolina 23, Mississippi State 19: Just two words: the fade
1996-South Carolina 23, Georgia 14:  Duce becomes a household name
1993-South Carolina 23, Georgia 21:  "They broke our hearts" ~Larry Munson

8/2/2008-CLEMSON Vs. THE SEC
 
Today, the USA Today-Coaches Poll was released.  The coaches voted Clemson at #9.  This is their highest preseason ranking since 1991.  This seems pretty lofty for a team that lost two of their last three games last year and must replace four offensive linemen.  It is evident that Clemson owes their weak schedule for their high preseason ranking.  South Carolina plays five teams in the top 25 (four in the top 10) while Clemson only plays one team in the top 25 (#23 Wake Forest).   
 
Recently South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier stirred up some controversey when pointing out the differences in the strengths of Carolina's schedule and Clemson's schedule. 
 
"I wish one of the sportswriters, when they start picking everybody's record this year, would write how they'd do if Clemson played South Carolina's schedule and South Carolina played Clemson's schedule.  They don't do that.  Clemson doesn't play Virginia Tech this season. Alabama. Alabama could be difficult. They don't play Georgia and Tennessee and Florida and LSU and those people we play," Spurrier said.
 
All of this prompted me to do some digging and take a look at the Tiger's history against SEC opponents.  Then I thought it would be interesting to compare Clemson's record against SEC teams to our record against SEC teams. Truthfully it's pretty close to the same. In my opinion, Clemson would have really close to the same record as South Carolina had they joined the SEC in 1992. This is evident after looking at their all time winning % against teams in the SEC.

Clemson's record since the forming of the SEC In December, 1932:

Against Alabama: 0-8
Against Auburn: 5-16-1
Against Florida: 2-2-1
Against Georgia: 8-27-2
Against Georgia Tech: 2-11 (between 1933-1964 when GT left SEC)
Against Kentucky: 4-6
Against LSU: 0-2
Against Ole Miss: 0-1
Against Mississippi State: 1-1-1
Against South Carolina: 11-5 (since 1992)
Against Tennessee: 1-4
Against Tulane: 3-5 (between 1933-1964 when Tulane left SEC)
Against Vanderbilt: 1-1

Total: 38-89-5 (.299)

South Carolina's record is:

Against Alabama: 3-10
Against Arkansas: 6-10
Against Auburn: 1-4
Against Florida: 3-17
Against Georgia: 12-36-2
Against Georgia Tech: 1-1 (between 1933 and 1964 when GT left SEC)
Against Kentucky: 12-6-1
Against LSU: 1-13-1
Against Ole Miss: 5-8
Against Mississippi State: 7-6
Against Tennessee: 2-19
Against Tulane: 0-2 (between 1933 and 1964 when Tulane left SEC)
Against Vanderbilt: 14-3

Total: 67-135 (.331)

Source: http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div.../opponents.php
 
-Jeremy Cauthen (Spurred)

GO GAMECOCKS!